Birth of Prof. Dr. Sartono Kartodirdjo, MA

88 years ago today, one of the most famous historians in Indonesia was born.

Minggu, 15 Februari 2009, 00:02 Edwin Solahuddin
Kartodirdjo (sitting in his wheelchair) during the celebration of his 85th Birthday
Kartodirdjo (sitting in his wheelchair) during the celebration of his 85th Birthday (sejarah.fib.ugm.ac.id)

VIVAnews – Prof Dr. Sartono Kartodirdjo, MA, was born in Wonogiri on 15 February 1921 into a modest family. He completed his elementary and secondary school education in Yogyakarta and Magelang.

Upon graduating from high school, Kartodirdjo became a teacher in Jakarta. At the same time, he attended University of Indonesia and graduated in 1956 with a degree in history.  

In 1959, he became a lecturer at Gadjah Mada University. A few years later, he obtained a scholarship and took a Master’s degree in history at Yale University.  In 1966, two years after he graduated from Yale, Kartodirdjo obtained a Doctoral degree in history at the University of Amsterdam.

In 1968, two years after he obtained his PhD in history, Kartodirdjo became professor emeritus of history at Gadjah Mada University. He spent the remaining years of his life teaching history to the students at Gadjah Mada.

Kartodirdjo had written dozens of books and hundreds of articles, mostly on history. His most celebrated books were “The Peasants’ Revolt of Banten in 1888, It’s Condition, Course, and Sequel: A Case Study of Social Movements in Indonesia,” which was an adaptation of his dissertation, “Pengantar Sejarah Indonesia Baru Jilid I and II” (Introduction to Modern History of Indonesia), “Protest Movement in Rural Java” (published by Oxford University), and many others.

The father of two was also the co-writer of “Sejarah Nasional Indonesia Jilid I-VI”, the official history handbook during the New Order regime. In 2001, Kartodirdjo, at 80, launched his last book with the title “Indonesian Historiography.”  

Kartodirdjo is considered by many as the greatest historian of Indonesia. He was the first to introduce multi-dimensional approach to historical writing in Indonesia, the first to introduce Indonesian-centric approach to Indonesian history, and the first to stress the important role of common people in Indonesian history. Kartodirdjo was also the first to apply modern historical methodology in Indonesia. 

Prof. Sartono Kartodirdjo passed away in Yogyakarta on 7 December 2007, at the age of 86.

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